Journalism’s fate in hands of citizens



Column by Wesley Robinson

Normally I fall on the opposite side of most journalists when it comes to why the industry is dying.

To me, journalism started killing itself when it shunned the Internet, continued expansion/conglomeration and neglected the change in the way people seek information.

Had there been more of an initial interest in online production, content and subscriptions, along with a shift in coverage among many other things, I don’t think there would be the calling there is to find salvation for the fourth estate.

That said, even though the fourth estate has done its part to become elitist and entitled, readership has done its part to ensure the fate of journalism struggles.

Traditional news is fighting a war against popular news, entertainment news and odd news being generated from multiple sources. News is no longer something you wait on or something you have time to get from your favorite local broadcast, its just something you have to have. Unless you don’t have news at all — surprisingly more and more people are becoming newsless.

Sure, most everyone knows what’s going on with the big news stories and the prominent discussion topics, but the second you start talking about real news and the things that actually matter, the conversation stops.

I was talking a with a friend right before holiday break about how the second people stop talking about politics, beyond health care or the economy,  it becomes a vacuous debate, full of speculation and heresy. He then used the example of “net neutrality” and surmised   most people had no idea what it is. Honestly, how many of you do?

I am one of the people who formerly relied on the excuse that I skip over the news because of the negativity it presents. If you watch your local news, it depresses you about where you live. Robbery, rape, murder, corruption and other negative acts permeate through the content. The same goes for print news as well.

For me the only place that still gives a balance of story types is on the radio. You still can get the hard news you desire, the human interest stories, the important stories that get overshadowed and everything else. It’s much better than reading or watching news that is constantly trying to beat each other to the same story, often giving little time and space to stories people care about.

And that to me is where print and broadcast news fails, because it lacks diverse, meaningful content. Everything is defined by rigid segregated sections and ideas are often separate and disjointed within a paper or newscast where everyone works together.

Just pick up a Kernel. You know where to look for news, you know where to look for sports and if you’re reading this column you found opinions. Since it’s Thursday you can check out features, but you may have to go online to find that section most of the time. And we are no different than any other news entity.

So what am I saying? With the way news works, you have to have specific schedules so there is some organization. Essentially, its hard to break the typical journalism formula because the formula works to an extent that makes people happy.

That means it is up to readers, viewers and listeners to take it upon themselves to be informed and delve into issues that stray past their interests.

Me, I’m a sports guy. My TV stays on ESPN and if I listen to anything other than Fox Sports Radio, it’s NPR or the BBC. Why? Because sports are an escape, a form of entertainment. Just like celebrity news lifestyle information, it is meant to be a supplement to the hard news that makes us useful citizens.

Tune in before the nightly sportscast airs, flip over a couple of pages to the financial section. It may not be fun at first, but the long-term pay off is well worth the strain of doing something new.